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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Machine-Made Mayonnaise

Before I knew what the rest of the world knew - that a food processor could successfully make mayonnaise - I hand-whisked in the oil, drop by drop, until I was ready to drop! It was the wonderful Julia Child’s encyclopedic book, The Way to Cook, that let me in on the secret. Child’s book credits one-time Gourmet Magazine editor Ann Seranne with developing the method that simplified the preparation of homemade mayonnaise. 

For this recipe, Julia Child suggests using half-to-two-thirds peanut oil with the balance being olive oil. I’m a simple creature and tried using 100% extra virgin olive oil, but didn’t care for the taste. I saved the mayo by reducing the olive oil and adding ½ c. of canola, but these are all matters of personal taste. 

When you start, be sure to have all your ingredients at room temperature, adding the oil very slowly to form the emulsion that thickens the mayo. The short plastic blade of your food processor is superior to the longer metal one because the shorter one works more slowly, so that the mayo-making process is easier to time and control.

To quote Child: “… You’ll find, after a batch or two, that you will confidently whirl up half a quart or more of that thoroughly addictive sauce in under 5 minutes.” So here’s her simple recipe - with my edits and condensed rewriting. 

Machine-Made Mayonnaise:

1 large egg
2 egg yolks
1 tsp. Dijon-style mustard
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and/or white wine vinegar (as a photo caption states, I used 1 tbsp. lemon juice and 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar)
1-½-to-2 c. best-quality oil - peanut, olive, or other oil - all one or a mixture 
Freshly ground white pepper (I use finely ground black pepper - NP)
More mustard, salt, lemon juice, and/or vinegar, as needed (I also like a dash of cayenne pepper - NP)
Droplets of sour cream, sweet cream, or water to lighten the finished sauce if it is too stiff (I prefer a little sweet cream, but didnt need it as the texture was already perfect - NP)

Place whole egg, yolks, and mustard in the container of food processor. Process 30 sec. with plastic blade (or 15 sec. with steel blade). Add salt, lemon juice and/or vinegar. Process 15 sec. with plastic blade (7-to-8 sec. with steel blade). 

With the machine now continuously running, add the oil in a thin stream of droplets, making sure it enters the food processor very slowly (see Note) until the mayonnaise starts to thicken. At that point, add the oil a little faster. 

Stop the machine to check on the mayonnaise after adding about 1-½ c. oil. If the mayonnaise seems too thick, add droplets of lemon or vinegar, seasoning to taste. Use some or all the oil, depending on how thick you like your mayonnaise. If the sauce is too thick, add cream or water droplets, processing until it’s just right. 

Spoon into clean jar. Label, seal, and refrigerate for storage up to a week. This recipe yields 2-to-2-¼ c. mayonnaise. With no additives or preservatives in this mayo (other than lemon juice, and/or vinegar), don’t make a Costco-sized jar of this stuff unless you intend to use it up soon. The appeal of homemade mayonnaise is its freshness and its simplicity. Having said that, go ahead and add snipped chives or other fresh herbs, if you wish. 

Note: Food processors have changed in the nearly 25 years since Child wrote this book. Mine has a tiny hole in its funnel so that added oil creates a drop-by-drop emulsion with almost no effort on your part. Chances are, your food processor offers the same gizmo. Please read my final notes at the end of the photos. 


The whole egg, two yolks, and mustard get whirled up first.

In goes the salt! I used less than the recipe suggests,
but found I needed more. 

Squeeze those lemons, Dollinks!

I eventually added 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice as well as 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar.

The oil goes in drop-by-drop as your food processor does the job for you.

The whole egg and two yolks produce this light golden color.
The texture is perfectly creamy and well blended.

Und so …! If youre a straight-lines, black-and-white thinker who can’t bear uncertainty, you will hate this recipe. It is vague, changing with personal tastes. If you aren’t fond of the results, play with what youve got until you feel happy - a little more lemon, a few drops of cream, a pinch more salt, and so forth. 

Mayonnaise is not made so much as created in a blending of science and art. Whatever changes you make to this recipe, write them down so you can do it again, next time. After having set two beautiful jars of this mayo in the fridge (placed at the front, so I can admire it), I strongly doubt that I will ever buy commercial mayonnaise again. Goodbye, Hellman’s! We had a great thing going for 30 or 40 years, but I’ve found a new love now, even if homemade means machine-made.

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